How to transform a community

At Christmas, especially, as we recall a Savior born into the darkest reaches of poverty, all of us shudder at the lost opportunities of our broken inner cities.

Many have tried to “crack the culture code” of generational poverty (poverty experienced by those families living with it for 3 generations or more) without success. Jubilee Services is confronting the challenge head on. We focus on the missing piece of our broken communities – men. Specifically, we seek out men willing to stand up and become all God has intended for them by committing to their own spiritual development and the care of their families (including the children they have fathered). We look for men who will become leaders in their church and community – real agents of change to lift themselves and others up out of poverty.

The typical background of men we encounter in our city includes the following: no high school diploma, a felony record usually associated with drugs, multiple children by several women, no consistent work experience, no permanent residence, a personal vision that doesn’t see beyond “today” and, perhaps most heartbreaking, no one they’ve ever called “father.” Without this half of the population acting as positive agents of change, there will be no hope for our inner cities.

But wait: this is not new. God watched this phenomenon for millenniums. And He has hatched a plan to change this. Some of the last words of the Old Testament proclaimed a new Elijah to come to “turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers.” Then God’s word went silent for 400 years.

I’m thinking it was a pause for dramatic effect.

Next on the scene was that new Elijah. Born of humble beginnings, heralded by angels, despised by those in power, sent on a mission by God “not to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” He was empowered to reconcile all men to God. No longer was merit before God measured in human acts of sacrifice, but now every life, no matter how burdened with sin, could be reconciled with God through Jesus’ ultimate expression of this newly revealed character of God – Grace.

Jesus ministry lasted only 3 years, but this was enough time to:
- Teach of God’s desire to bring us into a direct relationship with His Father in heaven
- Live a life that demonstrated His teachings
- Raise up 12 men to carry on His work

Seeing the confusion his new disciples felt about how to relate to God He taught them the way to communicate with His Father was to simply ask of him:
- His name to be held in high regard
- His rule and will come to the earth as it is in heaven
- Provide for our basic needs
- Forgive us for all we do wrong
- Give us the power to forgive others as He forgive us
- Lead us away from temptation to do wrong

For millenniums many have asked, “When will He come back? When will his rule and His will blanket the earth, when will all our needs be met and sorrows end? How the heck does this relate to the work of Jubilee Services?

God has been silent about His timing of His next direct interaction on earth, keeping it “even from the Son of man (Jesus).”

I think Jesus was saying something in the Lord’s Prayer, perhaps hinting: “Don’t wait for me, I have given YOU the power to extend my kingdom!” He gave us repeated examples of taking the least and the lost, helping us see their spiritual deficit and, more importantly, helping us see how a relationship with Him erases the past and gives us a greater purpose in life beyond our own needs.

At Jubilee Services, we think that model works. We ask for all the Grace God can provide. We seek men who seek to live the life Jesus calls us to live and empower them to walk the walk. Our work is to build His church. We don’t measure the worth of the men we work with by their past. We don’t care about criminal histories, lack of work experience, or education. Jesus demonstrated time and again He didn’t care – He constantly picked the lowest of society to prove His love extends to all. We sort by only ONE factor: the presence of Christian character.

God leads these men to us through the churches in our communities. We ask to work along side churches that have reached out to these men and are actively helping them build a relationship with God. We consider our work done when we have returned to the church men who are leaders of their families, churches and communities

Meet Tom Maxwell (left) and Antoine Whitney (right). Both men came from a past as outlined above. Now both live a life that doesn’t look back on that. Come meet them! Hear their personal stories of transformation. Both have been employed by Jubilee Services and have become business leaders, supervising others as well as starting their own businesses. In the process they now support themselves, their children, their church, and – best of all! – They reach out to their community in ways we can’t to spread their message of grace. They represent seed planted that will sprout 100 fold in their communities. They will also lead men next year that will become leaders like them. Jesus chose 12 and changed the world. We are praying for 5. 5 men. 5 men per neighborhood, who can be used by God to transform it, deliver it from evil; hold God’s name in high regard… to let His kingdom come, on earth, like it is in heaven.

Tom Maxwell: Tom now hosts all the kids in his neighborhood for a weekly dinner. It’s a safe place. Everyone is given a chance to say the prayer before eating. One day a Mother stopped Tom and said, “What have you done to my boy?!!” Taking a gulp and thinking the worst he asked: “What do you mean?” She said: “We can’t eat nuthin’ around here until someone prays!”

Antoine Whitney: Now a year and a half out of prison, he has led our lawn crew this season while also going to college (Dean’s list this semester!) and supporting a family of 4. His parole officer stopped by as he arrived for work and said: “Antoine – how much longer do you have on parole?” Antoine answered “2 ½ more years” His PO said: “I’m headed to the office to submit the paperwork to ask the judge to consider you a free man – you don’t need me anymore.”

How can we serve you?

Struggling with pain in your life? Need to hear from a role model of life transformation? Come spend time with our participants, life suddenly finds perspective when you hear others overcome challenges I can’t imagine facing. My life is constantly transformed being in their company.

Looking for an outlet to share your skills in a context that builds men to stand on their own feet?

Help us by:

- Be a “business mentor” who connects one on one with someone who needs a relationship that models what real men of God do: Marry the women they live with, be a father to their children, provide for the spiritual and financial needs of their families, serve their employer and customers well
- Be a teacher! We provide training in our “Life Bridge” training classes on financial management, work ethic, life balance, stress management and problem solving among others – we help with the programming, we need people who would love to lead these sessions, relate to our participants and help them succeed
- Lead one of our business teams, act as liaison between crews and customers, teach our participants how to replace you!
- Buy our services! Need landscaping/grounds care or light commercial or residential construction? Call us! Our teams are run by trade professionals, our work is first class and our pricing competitive.

Want to support us financially? Long term we expect to operate our businesses as we expect our participants to operate – financially self-sufficient, based on the work we sell. Right now we are about 70% financially self-sufficient and need to make up the balance through operating donations. In addition, we plan to expand our two businesses we use as a “work practicum” – construction and commercial property maintenance – through donations for capital equipment like trucks, commercial equipment and tools. We know how to stretch a dollar and you can frequently find me under a truck or lawn mower keeping them running while teaching our guys how to do it.

We are a 501 (c) 3 non-profit and your donations are tax deductible. Write Checks to “Jubilee Christian Development Corporation” 4231 N Grand St. louis MO 63107

Feel free to email or call me if we can serve you or you would like to support us.

This is a great season to keep it all in perspective. We serve a God who teaches us how to live and love. And He is the greatest Father to us all.

Merry Christmas!

On behalf of the Jubilee Services crews